Archive for the ‘Ancestral health’ Category

Dr. David Katz thinks the movie Fed Up missed a couple of things, including that “being hungry is like being horny, but with no rules” and that we need to distinguish “responsibility from blame.” So far, so good!

As far as the CICO vs sugar debate:

The movie made what I consider the misguided decision to argue with Sir Isaac Newton, giving air time to those who contend that calories don’t really count, and energy balance isn’t meaningful. …

Of course calories and energy balance matter, but just as obviously- so do the sources of that energy. Everyone who has ever eaten knows that some foods fill us up more than others, yet we routinely trot out experts to present this as if it refutes laws of thermodynamics. Everyone who has ever filled up a car or lawnmower knows that there is a certain kind of fuel on which the engine is intended to run. A gallon is always a gallon just the same, but of course a gallon ‘of what’ matters.

The fact that we don’t achieve healthy energy balance does not preclude its relevance.

Read the post (see And So What?) for Katz’s take on what we “can and should do.” It’s a longish list that’s pretty much summed up by “eat wholesome foods in sensible combinations.”

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Quote of the day

Blogger and occasional Weight Maven commenter Gingerzingi has been writing about her efforts to make it through her second Whole 30. She’s about half-way and has hit a bit of a bump:

Realized that one of my problems this time was not having food prepared, and in sufficient quantity. That’s one reason this is a very demanding regimen—it’s not so much that it’s very restrictive (in my view it’s not)—but that you just can’t get compliant food except by making it yourself. That’s where the real determination and adherence come in: shopping and cooking every week.

Aye, there’s the rub!

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Behavioral psychology blogger Gregory Ciotti explains the concept of supernormal stimulus … and why it suggests your brain just wasn’t built for junk food, porn, or the Internet. In a nutshell, the idea is that things like junk food or porn provide not-found-in-nature stimuli that our lizard brains find hard to resist.

Ciotti doesn’t say that the solution to this is to go all Luddite (or Grok). Instead, he suggests avoiding habituation:

The real enemy here is complacency—you needn’t feel guilty engaging with supernormal stimuli, but you should feel guilty if you allow yourself to become a victim of your habits, instead of the person in the driver’s seat.

Or as Stuart McMillen’s amazing comic concludes:

Only those who can see the supernormal can learn to silence the reptile.

A bit like “all things in moderation” but with a twist?

HT Julianne Taylor.

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Image from PaleoShoppe.com website mockup

Paleo is a diet/lifestyle that is based on how our Paleolithic ancestors ate. For some folks, this means a diet based on what we evolved to eat, foods that were consumed by our ancestors before the dawn of agriculture. You’d probably be forgiven for concluding that paleo was a whole foods diet.

But for many folks, “stone age eating for modern times” is mostly about excluding grains, legumes, and dairy. For them, processed foods like almond flour and coconut oil, or convenience foods with egg white and hemp protein powder, are fine.


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Quote of the day

Exuberant Animal’s Frank Forencich on health and fitness hyperbole:

Most of the time, we can safely dismiss these claims as over-blown rhetoric, the familiar chest-thumping of primates looking to one-up the rest of the tribe or attract a better mate. Alternately, we might conclude that these hyperbolic boasts are merely practical strategies for survival in an increasingly crowded and over-heated marketplace; bigger claims attract greater attention and in turn, bigger sales.

But these exaggerated health and fitness claims are not neutral, nor are they harmless. In fact, they are outright violations of the very nature of health. Even worse, they send a dangerous message to people who desperately need a sense of balance and proportion in their lives. In short, health and fitness hyperbole is not healthy.

Forencich talks at length about the inverse U or Goldilocks effect: a little isn’t enough, but a lot is too much. Even for so-called “safe” things like water.

It’s a great read, especially if you’re feeling at all guilty about how much you’re doing … or not doing.

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Paging Alanis Morissette

Isn’t it ironic?

The Paleo Diet™ Bar is a superior nutrition bar that is gluten, soy, dairy and preservative free. …


Organic Dates, Organic Almonds, Organic Egg White Protein Powder, Organic Raisins, Organic Sunflower Seeds, Organic Sesame Seeds, Organic Hemp Protein Powder, Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Vanilla Extract, Organic Cinnamon, Sea Salt, Non-GMO.

Grok was just chowing down on protein powders, wasn’t he?

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Anthropology doctoral candidate Hillary Huber thinks Paleo-TM folks give legumes a bad rap, arguing that:

  • Paleo researchers tend to lump legumes with grains but only cite sources that discuss grains.
  • Concerns about anti-nutrients come from old sources; in addition, cooking tends to reduce these problems.
  • Some anti-nutrients, like phytic acid, actually have some benefits.
  • Legumes have some health-promoting properties as long as they aren’t eaten raw.

She summarizes:

My point is merely that the exclusion of legumes from the Paleo Diet, or any diet for that matter, is probably ill-conceived. I like to imagine that this negativity toward legumes is intimately tied
to human dislike of flatulence. Why else exclude a food group that is so nutritionally rich, has a deep history of being eaten by hominins and other primates, is one of the most concentrated sources of fiber available to humans, is inexpensive and widely available, and is so very delicious?

Good question! Actually, in his AHS12 presentation, Mat Lalonde pointed out that typical paleo foods are likely higher in nutrient density. However, as this review of his talk shows, legumes score fairly high when nutrient density is compared to calories.

My takeaway? Eat your organ meats regularly and enjoy your hummus or dal ;).

HT Melissa McEwen.

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Quote of the day

Endurance sports and nutrition writer Matt Fitzgerald has a book coming out this spring titled Diet Cults: The Surprising Fallacy at the Core of Nutrition Fads and a Guide to Healthy Eating for the Rest of US. The premise? Restrictive diets are not really all about better health:

Since as far back as the Kosher dietary laws of the ancient Hebrews and even before, human beings have formed group identities and derived a sense of moral superiority from eating by strict rules. This instinct has become so deeply ingrained in human nature that infants as young as three months old express a dislike for those who seem not to share their food preferences. The modern obsession with identifying (and identifying with) the “healthiest” diet is merely a new twist on the same old phenomenon. People who become convinced that a certain way of eating is best for everyone believe they are making a rational choice in pursuit of improved health, whereas they are primarily making an emotional and moralistic choice to join a special group that makes them feel good about themselves.

Nathan Riley does a much longer riff on this deep-seated need to belong in In Defense of Your Crossfit “Cult” over at Sweat and Butter.

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Chris Kresser has a great post today for folks concerned about David Perlmutter’s new book Grain Brain, and its assertion that we should eat a ketogenic (i.e., very low carb) diet to avoid Alzheimers and other neurological diseases.

In Do Carbs Kill Your Brain? Chris suggests that Perlmutter’s is an “unnecessarily restrictive and unhelpful” approach:

It’s important to realize that just because a low-carb diet can help treat neurological disorders, doesn’t mean the carbs caused the disorder in the first place. While I don’t argue with the idea that refined and processed carbs like flour and sugar contribute to modern disease, there’s no evidence to suggest that unrefined, whole-food carbohydrates do.

Chris points out three “compelling reasons” that unrefined carbs aren’t the problem:

  1. We evolved eating whole-food carbohydrates.
  2. There are many traditional cultures with high carb intake and low or nonexistent rates of neurological disease.
  3. Modern research does not support the notion that ‘safe’ carbs are harmful.

Like Chris, I think people should follow an approach that works for them. If that means ketogenic, great. But I suspect many would likely find that cutting out refined and processed carbs first might be just as beneficial and a whole lot more flexible than going very low carb.

Please go check out the full post for more.

Photo credit: SteffanyF

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Quote of the day

Rick Hanson, author of the recently published Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence, spoke Wednesday to The Atlantic about why our evolutionary wiring can make it harder to ‘build’ happiness:

There was a lot about [hunter-gatherer life] that was very hard: there was no pain control, there was no refrigeration, there was no rule of law. Childbirth was a dangerous experience for many people. There’s a lot about modernity that’s good for the Stone Age brain. We do have the ability in the developed world—far from perfect, of course—to control pain. We have modern medicine, sanitation, flushed toilets and so forth and, in many places, the rule of law. …

… And yet on the other hand, many people today would report that they have a fundamental sense of feeling stressed and pressured and disconnected from other people, longing for closeness that they don’t have, frustrated, driven, etc. Why is that? I think one reason is that we’re simply wasting the positive experiences that we’re having, in part due to modernity, because we’re not taking into account that design bug in the Stone Age brain that it doesn’t learn very well.

This “design bug” is also our wired tendency to focus on the negative (got to be wary of tigers). Hanson’s solution? Making sure core needs — safety, satisfaction, and connection — are met and repeatedly internalizing these, taking “the extra 10, 20, 30 seconds to enable everyday [positive] experiences to convert to neural structure.”

You can read excerpts of the book on Hanson’s site.

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